BOSTON -- New England Patriots rookie safety Jordan Richards had visited the Kraft Family Blood Donor Center not long after being drafted in the second round in 2015, and it made an impression on him.
So much so that two days after the team’s loss to the Denver Broncos in the AFC Championship Game, he reached out to Donna Spigarolo, the club’s director of community relations, to see if she could arrange a visit for him to meet patients and donate platelets. Players aren’t permitted to do so during the season.
Richards followed through on the visit Thursday, conducting an interview while in the process of making his most meaningful donation.
“I just felt like I wanted to do something bigger than myself,” he said. “It’s easy to get caught up just playing football every day, and I love playing football; no complaints doing that by any means. But some of the people I’ve met, whether it’s at these different functions and outreach opportunities, I’ve been wanting to be a part of those things.”
Richards, who turned 23 on Jan. 21, spent about five hours on his visit. It started at the Dana-Farber Jimmy Fund Clinic, where he greeted various patients and signed miniature footballs. At one stop, he sat with 12-year-old Paris Prinsen of West Brookfield, Massachusetts, who flashed a smile as they compared birthdays.
Patriots safety Jordan Richards making a difference today, w/ Paris Prinsen, 12, at Kraft Family Blood Donor Center. pic.twitter.com/It55jgATQw— Mike Reiss (@MikeReiss) February 4, 2016
Richards had donated blood in the past, but never platelets. The platelets are critical, among other reasons, because they are only good for five days and can help restore what patients have lost through chemotherapy treatments. For a first-time donor like Richards, the process of donating platelets can take up to two hours. Then it can be quicker in subsequent visits.
“I had never heard of it until I had come here,” said Richards, who is from Folsom, California. “When I did, they kind of gave me an intro lesson on platelets and what they’re for. I can get past the needle thing, and I’m glad I’m doing it. I plan on doing it again at some point.”
Richards relayed that he plans to return to California in about a week, and he will likely train at his alma mater, Stanford University. He will then return in April for the start of the team’s offseason program, where he hopes to build on a rookie season in which he played 21.8 percent of the defensive snaps, totaled 20 tackles, two passes defended and one forced fumble. He was also a contributor on special teams.
When told that he hasn’t experienced a traditional New England winter at this point, he smiled.
“I brought the California winter out here,” he joked.
He also brought something else: A spirit of kindness that made a difference on this day.